AMSEA training prepares fishermen from Kodiak for upcoming tanner crab fishery

KODIAK, Alaska – Commercial fishermen preparing to head out for the upcoming tanner crab fishery in Kodiak, Alaska, successfully completed the Alaska Marine Safety Education Training today to better prepare themselves for the hazards of fishing in Alaskan waters.

The two day course, which began on Thursday, focused on all the necessary steps to prepare for and survive an accident at sea.

Mariners were afforded valuable face-to-face interaction with Coast Guard rescue swimmers in the safety of the Kodiak Coast Guard base pool, rather than in the midst of a brutal Alaskan winter storm. Swimmers explained the operation of pumps and other common equipment delivered by the Coast Guard to vessels in distress. They also explained how mariners can assist in their own rescue by cooperating with the Coast Guard’s rescue procedures.

Students donned their survival suits and entered the pool to practice skills such as righting a flipped life raft, signaling for rescue and properly entering a Coast Guard rescue basket lowered by a helicopter. The follow-on classroom training provided mariners a more in-depth overview of all aspects of safety, preparedness and survival in a more academic environment. Students discussed everything from federal requirements on what kind of flares to use to shipboard fire fighting techniques.

The course was concluded by having each student demonstrate their new skills aboard a fishing vessel at the dock.

“There has been a definite correlation between the reductions of deaths at sea and the amount of training and enforcement that has taken place,” said Steven Campbell, AMSEA Kodiak area training coordinator. “We can go back about 22 years and look at the data statistically and we can see the numbers get smaller and smaller each year, especially with the local, and Bering Sea fishermen. The more people that are being trained, it seems the more lives that are being saved.”

Although the drills are conducted in a safe and controlled environment, Alaska fishermen will be departing Wednesday for the tanner crab fishery. In the past week the Alaska fishing community has seen the death of one fisherman near Dutch Harbor, Alaska, and the loss of a vessel southwest of Kodiak Island, emphasizing the inherent danger in Alaska fisheries.

The Coast Guard in Kodiak and AMSEA team up each year in Kodiak to provide commercial fishermen classes free of charge. Safety training is held by AMSEA all across Alaska to more than 400 fishermen each year. The program debuted in 1990.

Individuals who would like to learn more about AMSEA and its programs can visit http://www.amsea.org/ or call 1-888-508-3287.

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